Vermont Craft Spirits Maker Caledonia Spirits of Barr Hill Breaks Ground on New $9 Million Distillery

Caledonia Spirits, the distillers of Barr Hill, located in Hardwick, Vermont, have officially broken ground on their new craft spirits distillery. The new distillery is being built about 25 miles south to the state’s capital in Montpelier.

The new 26,000 square foot distillery, tasting room, and visitor center will be built on 4.3 acres just over a mile from the capital, along the banks of the Winooski River. The new riverside distillery will increase Caledonia Spirits total production capacity to more than 200,000 cases. The distillery will house a venue for community engagement, including bee and pollinator education, distillation history and cocktail education. The total project is estimated to cost over $9 million. The distillery will hold on to its existing 6,500 square foot location in Hardwick for a tasting room and storage.

Caledonia Spirits Production Manager – Chris Ely, VP at Neagley & Chase Construction – Rob Higgins, Caledonia Spirits President and Head Distiller – Ryan Christiansen, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, Founder of Caledonia Spirits, Lifelong Bee Keeper and Land Steward at Thornhill Farm – Todd Hardie, Caledonia Spirits Chief Financial Officer – Aminta Conant, Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson, and Weimann Lamphere Architects – Tim Duff. (Left to Right.)

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“The popularity of our brand begins with our farmers and distillers attention to quality,” said Ryan Christiansen, Caledonia Spirits President and Head Distiller. Christiansen is also a member of the Distilled Spirits Council of Vermont and a newly elected board member of the American Craft Spirits Association. “The added capacity allows our team to bring more Barr Hill to market, while providing space to create and share new products with the community as we cultivate stronger relationships with our area farmers. This is an investment in Vermont. We can see the trend, and feel the momentum. If we’re going to keep up, we need more space.”

The expansion project picked up speed when Montpelier City Council approved a $460,000 development agreement in May of 2017. This agreement included several infrastructure improvements which were completed prior to distillery construction. The Montpelier City Bike Path construction project, also beginning this year, will run along Barre Street, directly in front of the distillery. The distillery will be granting an easement to the city for a public river access.

“The City of Montpelier is thrilled to have Caledonia Spirits move into town. It’s taken a lot of work and coordination to get to this point, but we have been delighted to collaborate along the way. This is a significant moment for the City of Montpelier, as we continue to show that Montpelier is a hub of business in Central Vermont. The location is ideal as it has the potential for river access on one side of the property, and the City is about to construct a bike path along the other side of the property. It’s going to be more than just a great distillery; it will be a destination for those visiting Central Vermont,” said Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson.

Caledonia Spirits has hired Neagley & Chase Construction Company of South Burlington to build the facility. Weimann Lamphere Architects, of Colchester, has designed the facility with support from Dalkita Architecture and Construction of Littleton, Colorado.

Wiemann Lamphere Architects says the Caledonia Spirits will planning a steel frame building with an insulated metal panel skin that will be paired with high performance mechanical, lighting and daylighting systems to provide comfortable and healthy spaces for employees and visitors alike. Ample daylighting via both windows and skylights, will ensure the production spaces are enjoyable spaces to work and visit. The interior industrial material pallette consists of exposed steel structure, locally sourced materials, and exposed concrete floors.

“We are excited to have Caledonia Spirits join the Montpelier community,” said Laura Gebhart, executive director of the Montpelier Development Corp. “The project has been a beacon of collaboration with the city and local organizations. The new distillery will provide value to the community and a unique amenity for those who live and work in Montpelier. Visitors coming to the distillery to experience one of Vermont’s high-quality, thoughtfully-made products will now get to enjoy the unique assets the rest of the city has to offer.”

The new Caledonia Spirits distillery in Montpelier is expected to be open by May of 2019.

View all Vermont Distilleries.

The New Caledonia Spirits Distillery Construction Site

The site where the new distillery is being built was once used as a deposit site for a neighboring granite business. Those deposits left behind a loose surface that required some unique attention before construction could begin. Rather than truck in tons of new soil for compaction, the builders chose to go with “Dynamic Compaction” a method of increasing soil density by dropping a heavy weight from a crane. In this case, it’s an eight ton weight dropped from a precise height repeatedly to firm up the surface. I’m sure the neighbors will be happy when this part of the construction process is complete.

Here’s a short video of the process in action. Yubba, dubba, doo!

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